As sargassum seaweed steadily invades the beaches of Quintana Roo, from Isla Holbox in the north to Xcalak near the Belize border, there is no money to do anything about it.
The federal government does not have the billion pesos needed to combat the massive waves of sargassum, revealed Pablo Careaga, the state representative of the tourism promotion fund. Fonatur.
There were hopes that Fonden, the natural disaster fund, could help. But this week it was discovered that under the agency’s rules, sargassum does not qualify as a natural disaster.
With winds and ocean currents driving the seaweed in to shore, it was forecast that by Saturday or Sunday the state’s entire coastline would lie under a bed of sargassum, with no immediate let-up in sight.
One report on Sunday said satellite images indicate the sargassum will continue to arrive over the next 72 hours.
Fonatur’s Careaga said lawmakers are working with businesses, organizations and other government agencies to find a way to free up funds to deal with the problem in the months ahead, which are forecast to see record amounts of the weed continuing to wash up on Quintana Roo shores.
“We are looking into the matter with the secretary of finance to see what other options might exist, but yes, we’re stuck on the funding.”
The Cancún sargassum monitoring network estimates that as much as one million tonnes of sargassum could finish up on the beaches this year. As of Saturday, one of the worst affected areas was Tulum, where a 25-meter strip of sargassum lined the beaches.
Quintana Roo Senator Marybel Villegas said Friday a multidisciplinary task force consisting of federal, state and local authorities, along with businesses, universities and NGOs will be created to address the problem.
Villegas said the problem is a priority for the federal government for its significant economic impact. She said that while an aid package of 240 million pesos (US $12.7 million) was pledged in August of last year, the measures implemented so far have been ineffective.
The Cancún-Puerto Morelos hotels association estimated that cleaning the beaches of sargassum will cost at least 700 million pesos.